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When a child’s parents have divorced or no longer have a relationship, either parent can request child support services through the New Jersey Child Support Enforcement Agency. This agency can help you establish paternity, find a parent who does not have custody, create a legal order for child support and enforce existing state child support orders.

Take these steps to seek the services you need to ensure your child receives financial support from both parents.

Starting your application

First, visit the agency online or at your local county office. In your application, you can request the child support services you need for a small fee per service. If you receive state financial assistance, the agency waives your service fees. You will need to provide information about your income and living expenses, as well as whatever information you have about the other parent and his or her finances.

Preparing for your hearing

The agency notifies the other parent of your child support petition and schedules a hearing that both parties must attend. The judge will review each parent’s income and financial information along with existing child custody and parenting time details. He or she orders monthly support based on the existing state guidelines for average monthly child expenditures by household. Your hearing usually occurs within 90 days, though lack of established paternity or a parent who lives in another state or at an unknown address will prolong the process.

Obtaining support

After a legal support order exists, the state’s Family Division will collect monthly payments from the noncustodial parent, either by check or money order or by paycheck withholdings. The agency will then send the payment to the custodial parent within two business days. When missed or late payments occur, the state can garnish the parent’s wages, issue a negative credit report and seize lottery winnings, tax refunds and personal property.

Child support payments continue until a child turns 19, joins the military, gets married or becomes an emancipated minor. The court determines child custody separately from support, and failure to pay does not influence visitation or parenting time.